Case Studies

woman presenting to audience.

The NAVIGATE Project case studies were created as part of an NSF-funded project to develop a training program to help female STEM graduate students recognize—and devise strategies for dealing with—gender-based inequity, bias, and discrimination in the workplace.  

A key component of The NAVIGATE Project is the development of a series of case studies with female STEM protagonists which promote strategic thinking, problem solving, and decision making around these issues. All of the cases are based on the real experiences of women in the workplace, with names, places, and, in some cases, certain details changed to maintain confidentiality. 

The case study materials on this website are made available through a Creative Commons license: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International. In summary, all are free to share and/or adapt the materials for non-commercial purposes, as long as proper attribution is given. We encourage users to modify the cases to meet your own goals and objectives and the needs of your target audience. Permission to adapt a case is not necessary. Adapted cases however must cite the original title of the case and the name(s) of the original author(s). 

Case Study Training Materials

  • Anitta - Based on My Own Merit
    Five female friends with diverse backgrounds - three engineering students, and two practicing electrical engineers - discuss intersectional challenges arising from biases they currently face in school and the workplace.
  • April and the Promotion Committee
    The only female member of Physics promotion committee struggles to prove that a fellow female faculty member in the department is worthy of the promotion to a full professorship.
  • Ayesha and the Trade Show
    A junior engineer who has just returned from representing her company at her first trade show is excited to present her report, but she leaves the meeting confused by her senior director’s muted reaction.
  • Brenna McGee - A Balancing Act
    A mid-career female academic researcher receives personal advice from an older female faculty member on how to better prepare herself for promotion to full professor that doesn’t take into account her work-life balance choices.
  • Claire King - Overlooked for Promotion?
    A mid-career engineer finds her path to promotion to partner at the small, private company where she has worked for 10 years blocked by the existing partners, all of whom are male.
  • Kaira and the Big Pitch
    An early-career engineer is passed over by the CEO of her firm for the lead role in delivering a pitch to a valuable external potential client.
  • Michelle and the Grant Proposal
    An early-career faculty member tries to obtain a letter of support for a grant application from her department chair, but senses that he is reluctant to provide it.
  • Nadia Spencer - A Confidence Challenge
    A PhD civil engineering student contemplates quitting the degree program as her confidence is shaken while working as a TA for a male professor who has created a hostile work environment.
  • Pei Wu - Running Out of Time
    A graduate student is assigned to work in the lab with a male PhD student from a different cultural background who seems to lack respect for her and her career path and may be actively working against her.
  • Rachel Frank - Conflicted at Work
    An early-career engineer is first befriended by, and then becomes romantically entangled with, a more senior and more powerful colleague at work, leading to a number of conflicts of interest.